Hidden Gem on Fernwood Ave: Northeast Middle
My husband and I are raising 4 sons, 8th, 6th, 3rd grades and PreK. For many years, we struggled with educating our kids and finding the right fit for them that supports our values as a family. We moved to Bethlehem (where I was raised) from Delaware when our oldest was 2 years old. We spent the next 7 years living in South Bethlehem but decided not to utilize the public school in our neighborhood. When the boys were school age we enrolled in a brand-new charter school which lasted only a few weeks, choiced to public school across town for 1-year, paid tuition at Christian school for 4 years, did tradition homeschool for 2 years, and finally came full circle and found our home in BASD the past 3 years. We have seen the joys & struggles of literally every type of education out there. By making the choice to return to public schooling, our sons have turned a corner in their education and are absolutely thriving & succeeding at Spring Garden and Northeast Middle.
Our struggle began with having the desire to keep our large family close, allow the boys to grow up learning & playing together as much as possible and to have the time to impart our values as a family on our sons through their daily education. We didn’t want our sons to grow up being rushed by the educational system. Another important part of their education to us was the ability to get outside as much as possible and move around, as boys should. We found Christian school and traditional homeschool to be the pathway that afforded us and the boys the opportunity to meet these goals for our family. After many years of investing our own time and money in their education, we finally reached a point that it was exhausting & financially unsustainable. We recognized our love for our community and the people who were placed in our life that live nearby was a value we wanted to pass on to our kids. We made the decision that it was more important to us that our sons be raised forming strong connections & friendships with the people that live near us, than for us to be cultivating this idyllic educational experience.
From the moment we enrolled our sons at Spring Garden & Northeast, we knew it was the right decision and something we should have done sooner. We were greeted by secretaries who instantly got us plugged in with the teachers & principals and made us feel at peace & comfortable.
We have been blown away at Northeast with the endless opportunities, in school and after school, athletically, artistically & musically. From the moment you drop your students off in the morning, you’ll see Mr. Rahs (principal) and guidance counselors & teachers standing outside greeting each student. We love the team teaching starting in 6th grade. The 6th graders spend their day on one floor of the building and don’t mix with the 7th or 8th graders for the most part. 6th graders may not join any sports teams, therefore, the teachers go out of their way to provide enticing after school clubs. From Reading Olympics to Running Club, to World Languages to Homework Club, our sons have spent time making lasting friendships and getting acquainted with all the teachers at Northeast during 6th grade. Our 6th grader has been on Honor Roll this entire year and I attribute it to good teaching, his work ethic & inner drive, but also to his Homework Club teacher keeping him on track and providing any extra help. 6th grade has been the year that our sons try literally everything offered from the musical to band to chorus and attending dances or Nights Out. One of their favorite parts of school is the incentive program called Proud Society. It is a positive reinforcement system where students get Hornet Fives & Proud Pounds (looks like actual dollars) by attendance in activities, being helpful or kind in the classroom, following school rules, & attaining Honor Roll. Once you obtain 7 Proud Pounds, the school gives you a PROUD tee shirt & you are enrolled in the Society and can attend up to 4 fun field trips with all Society members. My sons are constantly looking for ways to do what is expected of them & reach Society status as quickly in the year as possible. Boys love goals & this system has worked beautifully in our household. By far, my favorite part of having our 6th grader at Northeast is his eagerness to walk home from school on Fridays with a bunch of boys and play basketball in the driveway. There are kids we have met and come around our home the past few years that we would never have met if we continued homeschooling or attending private school where students live very far from one another. We are thankful 6th grade has paved the way for friendships our sons will have over the 7 years of middle & high school, friends who live close & we can count on their parents when we need it, as well.
Tonight the 8th grade parents met with the Liberty administration at Northeast. As I sat there, I was feeling a sense of excitement that our oldest son is moving on to high school, but also a deep sense of gratitude for the safe & supportive educational environment he has been in the past 3 years. Middle school years can be turbulent times of mountains & valleys of emotions as kids grow and change so quickly. Northeast has walked alongside our son and our family over the past 3 years, not only preparing him for high school but affording him incredible opportunities, being supported by incredible teachers, administration & counselors and feeling a deep sense of community pride in a gem of a school. Years ago, a neighbor referred to Northeast Middle as “the best-kept secret in town” and after 3 years being connected to the school & families there, we also dub it as the best!
In the next few weeks as school winds down, our sons at Northeast will go on field trips to Washington DC, Iron Pigs, see Aladdin on Broadway, attend a 2-night Camping Trip, spend afternoons planting outside School grounds, finish out a winning NE soccer season, go to Hershey for a band trip, concerts with World Percussion, Proud A Thon, and enjoy their final dances with friends. At every step of the way, parents are encouraged to get involved & attend trips. The opportunities are endless, the teachers are phenomenal, the facilities are top notch, and the friends we have made at Northeast are an encouragement & joy in our lives. Switching to public school has given us a greater sense of community & love for families that live so close. We trust our sons are on the path to becoming outstanding citizens who are deeply committed to those around them with a high level of education & concern for bringing justice, mercy & goodness to the world. We encourage families to give public school a shot because we know they will be blown away by the positive atmosphere and incredible education. Northeast is a gem, tucked away off of Washington Ave. Once you try it, you will agree that it is a school with so much pride and needs to be shown off!
submitted by S. & T. Collins – proud Northeast Middle School parents